In 1991, our founders had the vision to partner with the federal government and become part of the original 15 Healthy Start program demonstration sites across the country to tackle disparities in perinatal health, including infant mortality. Baltimore Healthy Start, Inc. has been a leader in raising awareness on how social determinants of health—access to health insurance, education, job opportunities and a safe living environment—impact health and drive inequities in health outcomes.
We work in communities with rates of infant mortality at least 1½ times the U.S. national average and high rates for other adverse perinatal outcomes (e.g., low birthweight, preterm birth, maternal morbidity and mortality) in order to address the needs of high-risk women and their families before, during, and after pregnancy.
In fact, 40-70% of health disparities in the US are caused by social determinants of health-driven inequities. Social determinants of health are conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Resources that improve the quality of life can have a significant influence on population health outcomes. Examples of these resources include health insurance, access to quality health services, lead-free as well as safe and affordable housing, access to education, and availability of healthy foods.
Baltimore Healthy Start, Inc. began by delivering resources to families at their doorsteps and in their homes. We continue this tradition today and expanded to provide additional services, such as GED classes, parent leadership groups, and Belly Buddies in our full-service location on the east side. In July 2012, we added Healthy Families America to promote child well-being and prevent abuse and neglect through intensive home visiting.
As the largest home-visiting partner with B’more for Healthy Babies, we are proud to be part of the movement that has helped drop the Baltimore City infant mortality rate for the third year in a row. Other successes include the fact that
- The 2012 infant mortality rate was 9.7 – the first time Baltimore City’s infant mortality rate has dropped below 10.0
- The overall infant mortality rate decreased by 28% from 2009 to 2012
- The racial disparity between white and black infants decreased by almost 40% from 2009 to 2012
The drop in the infant mortality rate in Baltimore City plays a significant role in the overall drop in infant mortality for Maryland because a large proportion (1/5) of infant deaths each year occur in the City. In 2012, Baltimore City infant deaths (88) accounted for 20% of overall deaths in Maryland.